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Friday, March 30, 2012

Fraud Near the Fort (by Ben Petracco)

A feeling of vulnerability and disgust has crept up on residents of Fort Thomas, as an epidemic of credit card fraud has blanketed the Midwest.

I have personally been affected by the fraud, having two of my accounts hacked, with one account having been tampered with two times within a three week span. I also started noticing a trend that I may not be alone in Fort Thomas, after reading many people’s similar experiences on Facebook, and the list continues to grow as the fraud stretches across the United States. The fraud isn't just contained to our area, as there have been reports of fraud from New Jersey to California and even Mexico.

An article done by the Wall Street Journal suggests that a third party payment processor has been compromised which resulted in MasterCard and Visa account data being released. That article can be read here: Wall Street Journal Article.

Closer to home, the common thread via Facebook conversations seemed to be that a culprit to the credit card fraud could be tracked back to Jefferson Hall at Newport on the Levee. I contacted Tony Cafeo, the owner of Jefferson Hall.

He said, “Jefferson Hall has done everything in its power to resolve any problems with our processing credit cards. We have put in new internet lines, purchased all new upgraded software, hired forensic investigating firm, and worked with The United States Secret Service with the investigation.” Cafeo also confirmed that it is not employee related. “It is not an employee ‘skimming’ credit cards.”

Skimming credit cards is when the card is run through a device that stores the card information. He advised that the fraud problem involves many local businesses and provided this related story published on March 30th by Forbes. The fraud has resulted in negative business at Jefferson Hall, but it appears they have done everything they can to protect themselves and their patrons from the fraud.

I spoke with some Fort Thomas residents who were recent victims of credit card fraud. Matt Wagenlander explained, “It was embarrassing when I finally realized my card was compromised. I had no early notification of the problem; I didn’t know anything was wrong until I wasn’t able to pay for my chicken dinner.”

This seems to be the common reaction, the inconvenience of having your credit card declined unexpectedly and the ensuing embarrassment. Not to mention the thousands of dollars fraudulently applied to your account which could negatively affect your credit.

Chad Schwartz said, “My accounts were hit twice, each time for around $350. The charges were attempted at Wal-Mart and K-Mart. I was contacted by the Fifth Third Fraud Protection Team to inquire about the transactions; once they were determined to be un-authorized my cards were canceled and reissued.” Chad added, “It is just such a frustrating situation to deal with.”

In most cases the un-authorized purchases are not applied to the account because of the suspected fraud. The result is your account having a hold placed on it which is not realized until the card is used again by the authorized user. With attempted fraud on your account the account number must be canceled and reissued rendering you card-less for 7-10 business days-- cue the inconvenience and frustration.

There are a number of steps to safeguard you against credit card fraud which can be found here: Fort Thomas Matters wanted to make you aware of this problem plaguing the Midwest and more importantly Fort Thomas. We hope the next swipe of your card is not declined. Do you have comments or thoughts on the current fraud problem in the area? Leave your comment here:

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